Switzerland is, without a doubt, unlike any other place in the world. This land-locked nation has amazingly varied landscapes. Delicious food offerings that focus on comfort eats like cheese and chocolates and is a landmark country in practicing total democracy. In addition, the Swiss people are a welcoming bunch who are more than happy to share their country's many wonders with avid travelers.
A playground for the rich and the famous, amongst Switzerland's many feats is its popularity as a world-class ski destination. Featuring stunning peaks, powder-like snow for most months of the year, and spectacular villages and towns that create a charming ambiance, Switzerland is the classic destination for a memorable ski vacation.
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The Top 5 Ski Resorts in Switzerland
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A quaint resort town in Valais canton, Zermatt is all the more special for being a car-free zone. The absence of petrol or diesel cars results in the mountain air being just that extra bit fresh and invigorating. However, skiing enthusiasts need not worry for the hilly town does have electric vans and buses to take travelers from their hotels, apartments, and chalets to the town's main ski lifts.
Zermatt is popular with both winter sports fanatics and the casual tourists. The Matterhorn is amongst Switzerland's most famous mountains, and the Matterhorn Express that goes all the way up to the slopes is taken daily by both skiers and day visitors. Not surprisingly, it is here, at Matterhorn Ski Paradise, where skiers can find soft white snow almost throughout the year, even though November to April is considered the official ski season.
Situated at the height of 3883 meters, Matterhorn Ski Paradise is also the highest skiing destination in the country. Another significant advantage of being in Zermatt is the availability of blue, red, black, and yellow pistes, which means there are slopes for beginners as well as professionals. Moreover, its proximity to Italy means skiers can relish the tracks in Cervinia while staying in Zermatt.
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Visit Gstaad during the summer months, and you'll mistake it for a sleepy little town where nothing much happens. In winters, it comes alive, welcoming ski enthusiasts from across the world. One reason why Gstaad remains a relatively quieter destination is that it has a rather luxurious appeal. Along its main cobbled street, you'll find boutiques of luxury brands from LV to Gucci and Prada. Thus, it's also common to come across celebrities when visiting this town situated in Bernese Oberland.
Skiers will find that the slopes of Gstaad appeal more to beginners, with its learning parks, and intermediaries. The ski season is typically from October to May, giving visitors ample time to enjoy Gstaad even after skiing has ended in other parts of the country. With over 200 km of slopes, there are plentiful options for skateboarders to enjoy downhill tracks, although cross-country options are notably missing here.
Gstaad is, however, one of the very few places in Switzerland where it is possible to partake in night skiing. Rinderberg opens up the floodlights on its slopes on certain days, allowing skiers to experience a genuine once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
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Staying in Wegen comes with the added benefit of savoring Switzerland's most scenic region. Lauterbrunnen is nearby with its 72 waterfalls and the impressive Trümmelbach glacier. Then, travelers can take the train up to Jungfraujoch for a "top of the world" experience, where on a pleasant sunny day, it is possible to go out and play in the snow. In addition, Wengen is connected to Murren and Grindelwald, expanding its ski area even further.
Wengen's real attraction is in its petite alpine village atmosphere with picture-perfect chalets and mesmerizing views of Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger while skiing. Due to its idyllic location in the Bernese Oberland, the slopes surrounding the village are suitable for intermediary skiers. The town also has a ski school, perfect for traveling families who want to learn skiing during their Swiss vacation. For regulars, Wengen alone has tracks covering approximately 110 km with 23 lifts.
The ski season in Wengen is relatively short, ranging from December to April, but it is still possible to enjoy the pistes in Murren for a couple of months more.
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Davos' claim to fame presently is the annual World Economic Forum that witnesses industrialists and government officials descend upon this otherwise quiet mountain village to discuss financial matters of the world. Nevertheless, Davos also rates high amongst snowboarders and skiers who visit here annually to conquer over 300 km of pistes divided over six regions. Of these, Madrisa and Rinerhorn are best for families, whereas professionals can opt for off-piste challenges.
What really makes Davos a favorite with tourists is that it has something for everyone. Jakobshorn, for example, is heaven for free-stylers and snowboarders. In contrast, Pischa has cross-country tracks and the possibility of 'fatbiking', riding down slopes on a bicycle with fat tires.
As is the case with the rest of the country, things do get expensive in Davos, but the local authorities provide free public transport and substantial discounts to those holding the Davos Klosters Card. When visiting Davos purely for skiing, try and stay in Davos Dorf, instead of Davos Platz, as the former has easy access to the slopes.
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Situated close to 6000 ft above sea level, St. Moritz is famous for having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and then again in 1948. Now, it is considered a 'luxury resort' in the beautiful Engadin Valley of Grisons canton, having a strong Italian influence. For everyday tourists, St Moritz is mainly known for its frozen lake during the winters, where people can participate in a range of activities such as cricket, polo, and golf. Cinema aficionados, on the other hand, will find the town pop up in not one but two James Bond films, A View to Kill and The Spy who Loved Me.
Like many ski resorts in Switzerland, St. Moritz has two separate areas in the village. St. Moritz Bad is quieter and serves best for ski enthusiasts, while Dorf is famous for its shopping and nightlife. The ski region in St. Moritz covers a whopping 350 km over five areas, accessible via 56 lifts. Corviglia has the most popular slopes, including the Men's downhill, with its scary vertical drop at the very start. These slopes nonetheless cater to everyone with their blue, red, black, and yellow tracks. There is also a 30-obstacle snow park for those who enjoy a bit of freestyling.
Best of all, skiers in St. Moritz always have something to look forward to after a day of being out and about. The town is known for its gastronomic extravagances that consist of Michelin starred restaurants serving some of the most delicious Swiss food you'll find.
Contrary to popular belief, the best things in life aren't always free. Switzerland is a prime example where everything from lodging to food and ski passes can pinch the pocket. There are ways to save money when traveling in Switzerland, but its expensive nature does give it an air of exclusivity. As a result, skiing is Switzerland often means excellent service, well-maintained ski lifts, and having the slopes to yourself, which can, in turn, make any vacation here worth the extra bit you end up spending on it.